HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Denzil_DC » Journal
Page: « Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ... 48 Next »


Profile Information

Gender: Do not display
Current location: Scotland
Member since: Sun Sep 6, 2009, 11:57 PM
Number of posts: 5,226

Journal Archives

Frankie Boyle's election countdown: 'You'll be praying they prorogue the next parliament'

From a Dickensian Tory cabinet to the ghosts of Brexit promises past, the comedian brings you his take on the election

As the body politic convulses, as the abyss avoids our gaze, we near the end of another election at the behest of a political class that has paid as much attention to David Cameron’s fixed terms as he did to people with emphysema slowly dying over a wood lathe. Christmas seems a strange time for a Tory government to call an election; possibly they guessed that it would be hard for Labour to sell hope in winter; possibly they judged that goodwill to all men would be at its lowest after people had endured a December of accidentally answering the door to a canvasser because they thought it was an Amazon package. Then again, Conservatives would say that the story of Christmas chimes with their values, as it involves a pregnant refugee being treated quite badly.

Brexit supporters are surely among the most likely to get out and vote, especially now Jeremy Kyle isn’t on in the daytime any more. It was impossible to predict that the whole country would be thrown into crisis by middle-aged men outraged about Europe making decisions for them (these are people whose wives buy their socks), but I can understand their subsequent disillusionment. If 434 MPs vote for a general election, we instantly get one; if 0.14% of the populace vote for Boris Johnson, we instantly get him; but if 52% of the electorate vote for Brexit, they get three years of what feels like trying to shit out a pool table. Essentially, Brexit has proved impossible to deliver: turns out it’s tricky for English voters to take back control of their borders when one of them is in someone else’s country. Many people wish David Cameron had never called the referendum in the first place. It says a lot about how badly the last couple of years have gone, that there’s a guy who destroyed Libya, presided over needless austerity and fucked a pig, and we wish that he’d just used his own judgment.

Let’s begin with the Tories. The cabinet is Dickensian in the purest sense: the sort of people who would need more than two ghosts to change their behaviour. After an uncertain start, Jacob Rees-Mogg has had a pretty good campaign, onboard an Arctic clipper ship, nailed into a coffin of earth from his constituency. It’s interesting that someone who thinks ordinary people lack common sense is so heavily invested in upholding the result of a referendum, but like so many lesser ironies in this election, we simply don’t have the time. When people say “The mask has slipped!” after various cabinet gaffes, there must be a moment when the minister wonders whether they have accidentally come out wearing one of the actual masks they wear to the various Eyes Wide Shut-style parties that dot their social calendar at this time of year; their fingers moving reflexively towards their face to see if they’ve worn the head of a golden ibis to talk to Phillip Schofield.

The Conservatives seem to have focused on the phrase “Get Brexit Done”, which has all the conviction of your dad hitting the arms of his chair and saying, “Right…” We also seem to be hearing a lot about “Unleashing Britain’s potential”, despite most of our potential being for food riots, and perhaps some kind of race war. The Conservative manifesto contains elements of both Thatcherism and Reaganism, in that it seems to have been written by someone with dementia. There was probably a discussion about whether to release a manifesto at all or simply airdrop scratchcards over key marginals.


The usual mix of Boyle's savagery and underlying intelligence, possibly NSFW in places, but highlights include:

Of Rees-Mogg: "It’s interesting that someone who thinks ordinary people lack common sense is so heavily invested in upholding the result of a referendum ..."

Of Johnson: "... who looks like something you’d keep your pyjamas in, and who no reasonable person would choose to lead them into a chorus, has a strangely hunched demeanour; perhaps from all the time he spends crammed inside married women’s wardrobes, like a randy jack-in-the-box." and "... a face that looks as if it’s been kneaded by a baker going through a particularly bitter divorce ..."

Of Dominic Cummings: "... has the air of a startled testicle ..."

Of Gove: "... looking like someone took all the flesh out of a serial killer’s drains and forced it into some brogues; like Davros fell out of his Dalek; like a rushed cartoon of a horny snail ..."

Of Swinson: "... the gravitas of a re-education camp supply teacher ..."

Of Corbyn: "... perhaps weighing up whether he could have more influence by simply dying and haunting his successor ..."

How the right's radical thinktanks reshaped the Conservative party

In the wake of the Brexit vote, ultra free market thinktanks have gained exceptional access to the heart of Boris Johnson’s government.

When Boris Johnson assumed office as prime minister in July 2019 and proceeded, without the mandate of a general election, to appoint a cabinet that was arguably one of the most rightwing in post-second world war British history, many commentators called it a coup. The free market thinktank the Institute of Economic Affairs felt self-congratulation was more in order, however. “This week, liberty-lovers witnessed some exciting developments,” the IEA said in an email to its supporters. The organisation, whose mission is to shrink the state, lower taxes and deregulate business, noted that 14 of those around the Downing Street table – including the chancellor, Sajid Javid, the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, and the home secretary, Priti Patel – were “alumni of IEA initiatives”.

The IEA had good reason to boast about its influence. Just a few years earlier, on the occasion of its 60th birthday in 2015, Javid had declared that it had “reflected and deeply influenced my views, helping to develop the economic and political philosophy that guides me to this day”. In a speech to the IEA the same year, Raab also enthused about the organisation’s effect on his younger self. A few years back, he told the audience, he had been on a beach in Brazil. He’d had a couple of drinks, and had gone in to the sea to mull over an idea: that New Labour had “eroded liberty” in Britain and created a “rights culture” that had fostered a nation of idlers. Lost in thought, the tide had dragged him far from his starting point, and back on the beach, he had trouble locating his family among all the “scantily clad Brazilians”. On stage, he thanked the IEA for helping him develop this idea, which became the starting point for the book Britannia Unchained, an anti-statist tract, co-written with other MPs who would go on to join Johnson’s new cabinet – Patel; Elizabeth Truss, now trade secretary; Kwasi Kwarteng, business minister; and Chris Skidmore, then health minister.

The authors were also members of a parliamentary faction called the Free Enterprise Group, whose aim was to rebuild confidence in free market capitalism in the wake of the financial crisis, and for which the IEA has organised events, co-authored papers and provided administrative support. Other members included future Johnson ministers Andrea Leadsom, Matt Hancock, Robert Buckland, Julian Smith, Alister Jack, Alun Cairns, Jacob Rees-Mogg, James Cleverly and Brandon Lewis.

Libertarian thinktanks in the US, such as the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) have had this sort of close relationship with incoming Republican administrations for years, furnishing them with staff and readymade policies. Thinktanks – non-governmental organisations that research policies with the aim of shaping government – have long been influential in British politics, too, on both left and right, but the sheer number of connections between Johnson’s cabinet and ultra free market thinktanks was something new. In the period immediately before the Brexit referendum and in the years since, a stream of prominent British politicians and campaigners, including Johnson, Michael Gove, Nigel Farage and Arron Banks, have flown to the US to meet with thinktanks such as the AEI and the Heritage Foundation, often at the expense of those thinktanks, seeking out ideas, support and networking opportunities. Meanwhile, US thinktanks and their affiliates, which are largely funded by rightwing American billionaires and corporate donations, have teamed up with British politicians and London-based counterparts such as the IEA, the Legatum Institute and the Initiative for Free Trade, to help write detailed proposals for what the UK’s departure from the EU, and its future relationships with both the EU and the US, should look like, raising questions about foreign influence on British politics.

The organisations involved in this collaboration between the US and UK radical right are partners in a global coalition of more than 450 thinktanks and campaign groups called the Atlas Network, which has its headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. Members of the network operate independently but also cooperate closely in fighting for their shared vision of ultra free markets and limited government. They call themselves the “worldwide freedom movement”, collectively they have multimillion-dollar budgets, and many of their donors, board members, trustees and researchers overlap.


Tories investigate three candidates over alleged antisemitism

The Conservatives are investigating three parliamentary candidates over antisemitism and are facing calls to suspend them before the election.

Sally-Ann Hart, standing in the Tory marginal seat of Hastings, shared a video with an image implying that the billionaire George Soros, who is Jewish, controls the EU, and she also liked a Nazi slogan on Facebook.

Lee Anderson, standing for the Conservatives in Labour-held Ashfield, is an active member of Ashfield Backs Boris, a Facebook group where Soros conspiracy theories have been promoted and which includes supporters of the far-right activist Tommy Robinson.

Richard Short, the candidate for St Helens South and Whiston, is being investigated for asking whether a Jewish journalist was more loyal to Israel than to Britain.


Antisemitism isn't the only transgression levelled at Sally-Ann Hart:

Tory candidate defends low pay for people with learning disabilities

Sally-Ann Hart sparks row after claiming some disabled people ‘don’t understand money’
Sally-Ann Hart was heckled as she made the remarks at a Hastings and Rye constituency hustings on Thursday evening, where she is vying to defend the Tories’ wafer-thin majority after Amber Rudd stood down.

A furore ensued after Hart, a councillor in East Sussex, was challenged over an article she had shared on Facebook that said “people with learning difficulties should be allowed to work for less than the minimum wage”.

“It was about people with learning difficulties,” she told the crowd. “About them being given the opportunity to work because it’s to do with the happiness they have about working … Some people with learning difficulties they don’t understand about money.

“It is about having a therapeutic exemption and the article was in support of employing people with learning difficulties, that’s what it was. You should read the article.”


Her remarks at a hustings were not well received by the audience:

Rosie Clarke @Rknepper_

Conservative candidate Sally Ann Heart defending her view that Disabled people / those with learning disabilities should be paid less as they ‘Don’t understand money’! Actually unbelievable. Audience do not agree... #GeneralElection19 #tory #jc4pm

[Twitter video]

EU distances itself from Johnson's timetable for post-Brexit trade deal

Leaked communique signals caution over PM’s 11-month timeframe for negotiations
If he wins a majority, the prime minister has vowed to take the UK out of the EU on 31 January and agree a trade deal with the bloc within 11 months, an unprecedentedly short time for such a complex negotiation.

Johnson, who has built his election campaign around the misleading slogan “Get Brexit done”, has promised not to extend the 11-month transition period, seen by many as far too short to agree a future relationship with the EU.
The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has said it would be possible to negotiate a basic free-trade deal with the UK in 11 months. Others are more sceptical, with one senior diplomat saying he could not imagine it in his wildest dreams.
The latest EU text also has a reference to “the level playing field”, meaning the UK must respect core EU standards on workers’ rights, state aid, and environmental and consumer protection, to reach a deal ensuring zero tariffs and zero quotas on British goods.


British diplomat in US resigns, saying she can't 'peddle half-truths' on Brexit

Alexandra Hall Hall, Brexit counsellor in Washington, described UK government’s ‘use of misleading or disingenuous arguments’
Alexandra Hall Hall, the Brexit counsellor at the UK embassy in Washington, had been frustrated with the job for some time, according to friends and colleagues.

They said she felt she was not being given enough reliable information to do her job, which was to explain Britain’s departure from the EU to US audiences and help promote a strong US-UK relationship post-Brexit.

Her resignation, which was addressed to the chargé d’affaires, Michael Tatham, and circulated among close colleagues at the embassy, was damning in its description of the Johnson government’s integrity.

“I have been increasingly dismayed by the way in which our political leaders have tried to deliver Brexit, with reluctance to address honestly, even with our own citizens, the challenges and trade-offs which Brexit involves; the use of misleading or disingenuous arguments about the implications of the various options before us; and some behaviour towards our institutions, which, were it happening in another country, we would almost certainly as diplomats have received instructions to register our concern,” Hall Hall wrote in the letter, dated 3 December.
“It makes our job to promote democracy and the rule of law that much harder, if we are not seen to be upholding these core values at home,” Hall Hall said. “I am also at a stage in life where I would prefer to do something more rewarding with my time, than peddle half-truths on behalf of a government I do not trust.”


American dirty tricks are corroding British democracy

Super PACs in the US are notorious for smear campaigns and disinformation – now we're seeing them in the UK election. Be careful where you take your phone.
How they are shaping this election

Up and down the country, we’re beginning to see something a lot like Super PACs shaping this UK election.

They aren’t all on the same side. By far the biggest spender on Facebook ads is the pro-EU group Best for Britain, which has thrown nearly three-quarters of a million pounds at sponsored posts over the past year. The legal limit for non-party spending on election campaigning for the year before the vote is £480,000 – though, as Best for Britain points out, many of its ads are non-partisan voter registration messages, which don’t count.

On the other side of the Brexit rift, Leave.EU quickly established almost as much Facebook traction as Labour. With nearly a million Facebook likes, the group – founded by the millionaires Arron Banks and Richard Tice – pillories pro-EU politicians. Like America’s most notorious Super PACs, it courts controversy, incites rage and drives debate.

In a recent post – shared 7,000 times – the pro-Tory group reused an image of refugees from a notorious poster unveiled by Nigel Farage during the Brexit referendum, an image widely compared to Nazi propaganda.


Johnson Threatening To Review Channel 4's Licence After Replacing Him With Ice Sculpture in Debate

Boris Johnson Is Threatening To Review Channel 4's Broadcasting Licence After They Replaced Him With An Ice Sculpture At Thursday's Debate

A Conservative source told BuzzFeed News that if they win the coming election they will reassess the channel’s public service broadcasting licence.
In a dramatic escalation of the war of words between the Tories and Channel 4 that will likely provoke outcry, a Conservative source told BuzzFeed News that if they win the coming election they will reassess the channel’s public service broadcasting licence.

“If we are re-elected we will have to review Channel 4’s Public Services Broadcasting obligations,” the source said.

“Broadcasting organisations are rightly held to a higher standard — and particularly Channel 4 which has a special role enshrined in legislation. Any review would of course look at whether its remit should be better focused so it is serving the public in the best way possible.”

The inflammatory move came after Channel 4 said it would empty-chair the prime minister and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage at its climate change leaders’ debate, after the two leaders declined to take part.


Johnson didn't turn up, claiming a "diary clash". Gove visited the debate venue asking to be included, but the other party leaders said that was unacceptable because he wasn't a party leader. There followed the worst sort of gaslighting as Gove claimed repeatedly that the Tories had been "excluded" from the debate.

Michael Gove

Tonight I went to Channel 4 to talk about climate change but Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon refused to debate a Conservative #climatedebate

[Twitter video]

So if the courts displease this government in waiting, their role will be curtailed. If devolved administrations prove too awkward, their powers will be stripped, and if a broadcaster doesn't do their bidding, then it faces the chop.

I think there's a word for this style of government, but I can't quite place it.

Best song of the election: Radio Free Zeitgeist Presents "The Windmills of Your Mind"

Twitter version with subtitles:
Radio Free Zeitgeist @ZeitgeistFree

"Like a drunk albino walrus, always groping women's thighs...."

[Twitter video]

Jonathan Miller, writer and director, dies aged 85

Polymath also had career in medicine and was member of Beyond the Fringe comedy team
He rose to prominence in the 1960s as part of the irreverent satirical show, Beyond the Fringe alongside Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Alan Bennett.

He studied medicine at Cambridge, qualifying as a doctor in 1959. He combined his early stage appearances with hospital rounds. But he was soon in demand as a theatre director, in both London and New York, and also worked with the BBC presenting cultural programmes and adapting plays for television.

He directed a series of critically acclaimed operas in the 1980s and 90s.

Oliver Mears, director of opera at the Royal Opera House, said: “Jonathan Miller was one of the most important figures in British theatre and opera of the past half century. Combining a supreme intellect with a consistently irreverent perspective, formed from his experiences in both comedy and medicine, Miller shone a unique light on our art form.”


Perhaps not a name that will be familiar to the younger generations, but his star shone bright from his time as a member of the Beyond the Fringe team, which was highly influential in satire and comedy when it stormed both sides of the Atlantic, onwards.

He'll be missed.

Boris Johnson 'to curb legal challenges over Brexit' in extraordinary attack on the courts

Boris Johnson is planning an extraordinary attack on the courts if he wins the general election, prompting accusations he is determined to prevent a repeat of judges thwarting Conservative Brexit plans.

The alarm has been raised over proposals in the Tory manifesto to curb the power of people to mount legal challenges – after historic defeats over the triggering of Article 50 and the unlawful shutdown of parliament.

A little-noticed section also hints at expanding the use of the royal prerogative to allow, it is claimed, the next government to ram through plans for the future relationship with the EU without proper scrutiny by MPs.

The moves appear designed to prevent a repeat of the damaging setbacks inflicted by the courts on both Theresa May, over invoking Article 50 without MPs’ approval, and Mr Johnson himself, over the prorogation of parliament.


A reminder of what's at stake if the Tories win an overall majority in the coming election.

The stage was set for what would amount to the fulfilment of the most recent parliament's attempted coup by the passing of Theresa May's Great Repeal Act 2017, which included provisions for Henry VIII powers that would allow the government to enact legislation without full parliamentary scrutiny.
Go to Page: « Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ... 48 Next »